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Full text of "ModernGermanLiterature18801950"

HUGO  VON  HOFMANNSTHAL                       211

ich Hebe die Jdagenden, bangen,
die louder voll Todesgefuhl. . „

This neurotic brand of verse is of course not confined to Vienna,
but it is such morbidity which is the base of very great Viennese
poets; in their work, however - because they are great poets and
personally decent -, the dissection of diseased feelings and experi-
ences is transmuted to literature of the first quality.

The relation of this literary morbidity to the Georgean school
might be an interesting problem. One aspect is clear: while the
Rhenish Georgeans are masculine the Viennese neo-romantics are
feminine (even Schnitzler has this soft womanish passivity, and
Hofmannsthal and Beer-Hofmann have the illusion of manliness
only when they take into themselves the male spirit of Greek or
Elizabethan poets). In any case the two schools yawn apart, in
spite of coincidences of verse technique, in their attitude to the
reading public: only poets are expected to read George, but the
very morbidity - often sensational - of Hofmannsthal and the
Viennese group make them interesting to the many. Moreover,
to the general reader, they have the philosophical obviousness of
Maeterlinck, from w^hom they take so much. Two poets in par-
ticular who, to begin with, were attached to George broke loose
and alienated the Master because they wrote plays and stories
and became best-sellers, Hofmannsthal and Max Dauthendey, the
latter not a Viennese but, as a native of Wurzburg, a South
German.

HUGO VON HOFMANNSTHAL (1874-1929), of Jewish and Italian
descent, returned to the Catholic Church in his maturity, and died
shortly after the suicide of his son. He might be effortlessly charac-
terized by a mere enumeration of the pet terms of appreciative or
depreciative critics: Vberreife; fruhreife Mudigkeit; schwermutvolle,
kulturgesdttigte Mudigkeit; geddmpfte Angst; nervemytrte Weltangst;
seelisches Greisentum; senile Jugend; raffnierte Sehnsucht; einparasitisches
"Edelgewachs ; Verschmel^ung von TLokoko und "Renaissance; Traum-
Mysti^ismus ; *ein Traum^ der sich selbst be^weifelf (a famous term
applied to Hebbel). The summing up by Thomas Roffler is as
good as any: €sii (seine Kunst} 'hatjene blasse und auf die Dauer ent-
nervende Zartheit, welche Mingt me das a]ygeddmpfte Spiel einer Geige^
fern und fern, narkotisch suss undunendlich mude*. But the most telling
description of Hofmannsthal's nature and that of the Viennese